The percentage of unionized workers rose for the first time since 1975–in part because of a drop in employee numbers amid the economic downturn, a labor ministry survey showed.
Another reason cited was part-time workers joining labor unions at supermarket stores, restaurant chains and other businesses.
The unionization rate rose 0.4 percentage point from a year earlier to 18.5 percent as of the end of June. It had steadily declined from the peak of 34.4 percent in 1975.
The number of company employees fell 1.1 million from a year earlier to 54.55 million.
The number of unionized part-time workers topped 700,000, accounting for a record 7 percent of all unionized workers.